The Bus, Tamarindo’s Freaking Dinner, and the Freaky World of Jacob Jazz

One of the great things about finding something cool on is that it can lead you down a rabbit hole of things you have never discovered previously, and your world is richer for the journey. That’s how I felt when I took a trip on Jacob Jazz’s The Bus.

The Bus itself is relatively simple. You play a strange-looking dude who has lost all means of transport through various unfortunate happenings, and as such, he has to take the bus. He gets on that bus, and a bad thing happens. It’s a very ordinary experience for this purveyor of short horror game experiences. Still, what really drew me in and made me try the demo was the upcoming game it’s associated with—the utterly demented-looking Jacob Jazz’s Tamarindo’s Freaking Dinner.

This game is the second in a ‘Jacob Jazz Treelogy’ after Baobabs Mausoleum and proclaims itself to be a mixture of 90s sitcom, Luigi’s Mansion, and Clue! I love a funky fusion of strange bedfellows and when it’s three things I actually enjoy separately, then boy, do I get happy about it.

Macario Macabro, who appears to also be the protagonist of The Bus, is a low-rent exorcist dinosaur whose main hustle is as an interplanetary pizza delivery guy. On one unfortunate night, he’s tasked with delivering a disgusting pizza concoction of herring, cheese, and blue onion to Tagomago’s Mansion, which sits upon a giant slice of pizza. Yet, upon his arrival, it seems that the inhabitants are far less interested in the repulsive pizza than they are in having a nibble on Macario. The hostess is one Countess Erzeweth Wátory of Walpurgis, and she’s brought her guests here to tuck into our hapless pizza delivery guy. Before his fate is sealed, he’ll have a shot at navigating this fucked up mansion and coming out the other side as anything other than a walking buffet.

The fact that The Bus is billed as an epilogue to the as-yet-unreleased Tamarindo’s Freaking Dinner, and that the hook for that game pretty much backs it up with a very blunt music video intro, suggests the protagonist’s fate is set in stone, but is it all as it seems in this culinary-themed world? Time will tell. For now, though, I just want to talk about the weird stuff.

The demo, currently on Steam, gives a good taste of what to expect from Tamarindo’s Freaking Dinner. It’s a demented 3D take on games like Maniac Mansion where Macario must best puzzles and match wits with the very folks who wish to snack on him in order to escape the madness. To that end, there’s some delightfully witty conversation, and a puerile sense of humor I can totally get behind.

If I could describe Tamarindo’s Freaking Dinner‘s vibe, it would be that it’s like a bootleg version of some licensed Nickelodeon game from the PS1 era that has been slowly corrupted from within over the years after being left stuck to the cheese inside an old pizza box. It’s a delightfully off-kilter visual design. Before we even get to the opening, where a fuzzy live-action collection of human beings does glitzy things in classic sitcom intro 101, there’s that cheese dream music video declaring the fact that Macario was dead before he died. When control was finally in my hands, my senses are hammered with noise and color in a way that left me feeling drugged. I suspect that was the intention.

 It’s a shame the demo is just a taste of this madness, but also exciting because now I really want to play that full game when it arrives.

So, to quench my thirst for more Jacob Jazz games, I had to check out Baobabs Mausoleum, and that was another joyful experience. Here, we get a top-down 2D game set in that same universe, where you are in the slacks of eggplant FBI agent Watracio Walpurgis as you investigate the mysteries of a town that only materializes every 25 years.

It’s not an easy game to love. It very much feels as raw as the talent behind it suggests, but it’s such an oddball trip of a game, inspired by the equally obtuse Twin Peaks no less, that I quickly fell in love with its doofus shenanigans. 

So here I am, out the other side of a simple curious click as a fully-fledged fan of the ridiculous nonsense being put out by this creator. I don’t think I’ll be ordering a herring cheese and blue onion pizza any time soon though.

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